Tardy Album Review | Yikes the Zero – An Echo Storm Howling

This album was released on July 16th this year. I first became acquainted with Yikes the Zero after I listened to Zilla Rocca’s latest album, 96 Mentality. Yikes was featured on my favorite track, Long-Winded Philly Shit. That album also introduced me to Disco Vietnam, who ended up releasing one of the better instrumental Hip Hop albums that I’ve heard this year, so I figured it’d be a good idea to check out another artist who was involved with that project. Anyway, I went into this album completely blind. There wasn’t a little description of the album on Bandcamp like most albums have, so I didn’t really know what to expect at all. Shoutout to Yikes the Zero for designing one of the best album covers of the year though. That shit is awesome. He also produced the entire album himself, so that’s cool.

Thankfully, I ended up really enjoying this album. I was not expecting it to sound anything like this though. This is probably the second-weirdest album I’ve heard this year, right behind SHADI’s You Can’t Hear Me. There’s actually not a single track on this project that I don’t like, so I’ll talk about the whole album in the proper order of the tracklist. It starts off with We, the Morlocks. This song really caught me off guard. The first thing that stood out to me was the beat. This production is fucking amazing, man. The whole album has some of the coolest beats I’ve heard all year. This definitely isn’t for everybody though. If you’re generally really into off-kilter, experimental Hip Hop you’ll probably really appreciate this. If you’re strictly into traditional rap music you won’t be as into this as I was though. This song in particular has a really gritty beat, and the different elements that pop in every now and then—particularly the horns—were a really nice touch. Yikes’ voice and delivery reminds me a lot of Homeboy Sandman. He also has kind of a weird accent. The way he pronounces his words reminds me of Wiki. That’s actually the one issue that really prevented me from loving the album as much as I wanted to. Yikes’ voice and accent make it hard for me to understand what he’s saying a lot of the time. Maybe I’m just really stupid and it’s obvious what the lyrics are, but I have no idea what he’s saying 95% of the time. I really wish the lyrics were on Bandcamp, but they’re not. I have no idea what the album is about. If I had to guess, I’d assume it’s a concept album based on H.G. Wells’ science fiction novel, The Time Machine. I googled what “morlocks” are, and they’re the antagonistic species of monsters that exist in that story’s universe. I’d actually never heard of that novel until I listened to this album. Apparently H.G. Wells is the person who invented the idea of the time machine. I mean, he’s probably not the first person to think of time travel, but he’s the one who coined the term “time machine.” That’s kinda cool. Anyway, since I have barely any idea what Yikes was talking about throughout this project, it’s hard for me to say if it really has anything to do with the story. The main reason I enjoyed the album so much is because it just sounds fucking awesome. The beats are incredible, and Yikes sounds good on the mic even if I have no idea what the fuck he’s talking about. It’s too good sonically for me to mind. The first song is dope. The following track, Alchemy, has a more melodic instrumental. I actually like this beat even more than that of the preceding track. I still can barely understand what Yikes is saying, but he sounds great flowing over this beat, and the scratches from DJ Skipmode are awesome. The song is dope as hell. It just sounds so fucking good. I really wish I had the lyrics though, man. I want to fully appreciate every aspect of the album, so it’s frustrating not being able to understand what he’s saying. I don’t fault him for that though. I think it’s more of a personal thing. I’ve seen literally zero other people talking about this album, so I can’t say whether or not other people have that issue. I’m assuming it’s a personal thing, but even if it’s not I still think the album sounds amazing, so I still love it. The following track is an instrumental interlude called Ayanak. It’s a pretty cool beat. The interludes on this project aren’t as interesting to me as the other tracks, but I still like them a lot. The fourth song, Sky Fire, might actually be my favorite track. I still haven’t decided yet. Once again, the production is fucking amazing. I wish Yikes produced more music for other artists too because I wanna hear more beats like this more often. Man, someone like Conway the Machine would sound so fucking awesome over a beat like this. Anyway, the song features two rappers named Osevere and Drusef. I think Osevere was on the first verse, and he fucking killed it.

Yo, pardon the jargon
I’m arguably your squad’s greatest problem
Keep their heads noddin’ while the record is revolvin’
You’re dead wrong, and I’ll probably end up spittin’ ’til the song’s end

I loved his verse, and the melodic hook from Yikes is dope as hell too. The production seems a little discordant, but not to a fault; it kind of adds to the charm in my opinion. I love it. The second verse from Yikes was really great too. Again, I couldn’t really understand what he was saying, but I could still hear his rhymes and they sounded great. His flow was super dope too. It’s not like listening to music in a completely other language. I can understand some of what he’s saying, but it’s only like 4 or 5 words at a time. I’ll get a bar here and there, but rarely a full couplet. He had one reference to OkCupid, which sounded pretty cool. I think that’s Drusef rapping on the outro. He sounded really cool too. There’s really not a single aspect of this song that I dislike. Again, I wish the lyrics were online, but I still love the song. It’s dope af. The following track, Broken Sun, might actually have my favorite beat on the whole album. It’s amazing, man. It’s so fucking weird. I love it. The closest thing I can compare it to is that SHADI album that I mentioned in the preamble. The random sounds just come together in a really crazy way, but it works so well. It’s insane. Yikes’ melodic delivery on this song is really cool too. It reminds me a lot of Busdriver. I still have no idea what the fuck he’s rapping about, but I don’t give a shit because this shit sounds awesome. It’s one of my favorite tracks on the album. I think it’s amazing. The following song is another standout track for me. The production is insane, man. It makes absolutely no sense, but it’s fucking awesome. I think Yikes’ lyrics are easier to understand on this song than they are on any of the rest. A lot of it still just didn’t register for me, but I love his flow and delivery. I don’t think he should change the way he’s rapping. I just wish the lyrics were online. I can make out certain parts of what he’s saying, but I don’t know what exactly they’re supposed to mean.

RE: unapologetic, read it in blood
Reply to sender; this memo written set to destruct
Figure it out in pieces, see peace
Decision is yours
No matter what the sister broadcast; no obstacle course

I probably got those lyrics completely wrong honestly. I don’t know. That’s what it sounded like to me. I couldn’t tell if he was saying “sister” or “system.” It’s probably neither. Fuck it. I still really liked the way he was rapping. Even though I don’t understand what he was trying to say, the way the lyrics seem to be written is really cool; the actual rhymes are dope as hell. The song is fantastic. The following track was awesome too. It has a really dark beat, but it sounds really pretty at the same time. Yikes doesn’t actually rap on this one at all. All the vocals are handled by a singer named Natasha Morrow, and she sounds really fucking good. Her muffled voice was the perfect compliment to this dark beat. It’s an awesome track. I think the following song, Moonchild Exile, is even better. Just like with pretty much every other track, the production is fucking superb. Yikes’ flow is dope as hell on this track too. It’s still hard for me to understand the lyrics, which is frustrating, but the song is super cool anyway. The production on the following track, Castle of Owls, is amazing. In my notes for the song, I literally wrote “this production is fucking insane man what the fuck,” so clearly I was mesmerized by the beat. I think Yikes’ lyrics were a bit easier to understand on this song too; I was still lost though. I’ll probably get it after like 300 listens. As I said earlier, I can only understand a few words at a time. He said something was “cooler than an icepick.” He also mentioned something about uh… “Probably end up getting bodied by their own creation.” I don’t know. His flow was really dope though. The song features a rapper named Stainless Steele who I’d never heard of before, but I checked his RYM page and he’s evidently been releasing albums since the late 2000s, so I might have to check out his work. I enjoyed his verse a lot. I could actually understand what he was saying too, so that was dope.

Another chapter in the saga
A tragedy-drama, comedy horror
A knight in shining armor
With chivalry and honor
Samurais swing swords so that you won’t see tomorrow
Like the camouflage ninjas that’s hidden in the shadows
Set fires to the fields, riddled with scars from the battle
Rattlesnakes slip past the gate in Castle Grayskull

I’m not sure where that He-Man reference came from. Maybe this project is like The Dewey Decibel System, and every song is inspired by a different story. I don’t know. The song is dope as hell though. I love it. The following track is another instrumental interlude called Kiroho. It’s pretty much just a dark, ethereal ambient Hip Hop beat. I like it a lot though. It’s dope. The following track is probably my least favorite song on the album, but I still like it a lot. The beat is a bit more upbeat and way less dark sounding than the others. Yikes’ flow is really nice on this song too. I wasn’t really crazy about his melodic delivery on the hook, but I still think the song is very dope. It just didn’t blow me away like a lot of the other songs. The penultimate track, Third Degree, is another instrumental song, but it isn’t labeled as an interlude. It’s a really good beat. It’s much more interesting than the interludes in my opinion. That could be because it features scratches from DJ Skipmode, who did a great job. It’s dope as hell to me. The final track might actually be my favorite song on the whole album. The production is fucking awesome, and I loved all the features. I don’t know who performed each verse, so I’m just assuming that they’re listed in the tracklist by order of their appearance. If that is indeed the case, then Tajai handled the hook. He sounds great. His flow is dope as hell. Yikes sounded really good, and Osevere snapped on that second verse. I wish he had a more unique stage name because I can’t find him just by googling “Osevere” or “Osevere rapper.” I’d really like to hear more of his work though. T.C. Cole killed his verse, and same goes for Tajai. Tajai might’ve actually had the best verse. Every verse on the song is awesome though. There’s not a single aspect of the track that I don’t love. I think it’s fucking awesome. 😀

This album is kind of amazing. As I mentioned a few times throughout the body of this review, I think I’d appreciate it even more if the lyrics were more discernible, but I enjoy it the same way I enjoy certain anticon. albums, like cLOUDDEAD. The production is absolutely stunning to me, and even if I don’t know what the hell Yikes is rapping about 99% of the time, he sounds great over it. As I mentioned earlier, he kinda reminds me of Homeboy Sandman mixed with Busdriver. Sonically, this is one of the coolest albums I’ve heard in a long time. I compared the production to that of SHADI’s latest album, but I think it’s easier to stomach than that one. It seemed like inaccessibility was You Can’t Hear Me’s M.O., but this album isn’t purposely trying to be the craziest, most batshit insane album of the year. Maybe it has more to do with the differences in their vocals. SHADI has a really high pitched, nasally, grating voice and it sounded like he was ranting to his listeners through a megaphone. Yikes is way more lowkey with his delivery. If you’re familiar with Homeboy Sandman you’ll understand why I used him as a comparison. As much as I love this album, it is a bit frustrating because I’m almost positive that I’d love it even more if I had the lyrics. The shit is still fire though. It’s one of the best albums I’ve heard all year, and easily the best album I’ve heard from the month of July so far. Do not sleep on it. It’s dope af.

Favorite Song: Razor Opera
Least Favorite Song: Old Day Nu


A flat
Grade: A

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